Part of living a happy and wholehearted life has to do with being vulnerable and letting yourself be seen fully. Learn why you should own your story and stop feeling like a character in someone else’s plot. Part of living a happy and wholehearted life has to do with being vulnerable and letting yourself be seen fully. Learn why you should own your story and stop feeling like a character in someone else's plot. Do you ever feel like a character in someone else’s play? Like a victim in your own story? If so, it might be time to start owning your own story and letting yourself be seen fully.

I love Brene Brown’s books The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly and I just recently started reading her latest book, Rising Strong (thank you, Elizabeth!). I’ve only gotten halfway through the introduction and I’m already reminded of her wise and thought-provoking sentiments that I love on vulnerability, wholehearted living, and being seen. I talked in detail about Brown’s thoughts on how to combat shame in a post last summer.

I can’t wait to dive deeper into Rising Strong but for now I’m already thinking about ways I can break down emotional barriers and let myself be seen fully. The background behind this concept is that in our culture we care so much about seeming buttoned up, having our shit together and being perfect that we’re afraid to let our true, real selves be seen. Ever notice how your Facebook and Insta feeds are full of happy, uplifting and positive stories? No one talks about the struggles and the painful stuff. And the truth is people don’t want to hear it on social. People only want to hear about struggles if you can follow it up with a “and this is how I overcame it and am so much better now” follow-up story.

But this is all so backwards as Brown puts it because the journey of struggling and the painful stuff, that’s where the learning happens. The struggle is as important as the outcome. And yet we can’t share this part with anyone because no one is open to hearing or receiving it so it’s harder to learn from it and make sense of it all.

According to Brown, the people that are living wholehearted lives are really good at being vulnerable. At being open with their real and imperfect selves and letting their imperfections be seen. They work to break down any barriers to feeling shame around what they feel and are honest and open with their loved ones about who they are and what they feel. They own their own stories. They are open about their past and where they’ve come from, including the failures and the falls.

Do you own the failures, stumbles and falls in your own life? What would it feel like to share these with others? 

I recently owned my own story when writing the introduction to my e-book with the first sentence, “At age 13, I was diagnosed with disordered eating.” I sat and stared at this sentence for a good five minutes. Do I really want to share that part of my past? Do I want to let my readers and colleagues in on this part of my story? Will people judge me? Will they think differently of me? But then I thought who cares? If I’m going to put a published work out there and “tell my story” then I need to tell the whole story, not the abridged version I’m used to telling.

I remember being so scarred to share that I struggled with disordered eating as a child because of the profession that I’m in. I remember sitting in a class as a senior in college listening to dietetic internship directors talk about applying to internships (which is the clinical experience you must complete to become a RD) and one of the directors said if you had an eating disorder in the past and that’s why you want to become a RD, do not share that in your applications and in fact, I highly urge you to reconsider entering the profession because these things come back to the surface when you’re counseling clients. Talk about a shame game. I was so ashamed after hearing that, I decided I couldn’t share my story with anyone out of fear of being a bad dietitian. Now, years later, being more confident in my career, I know that my experiences as a child, being overweight then later underweight and seeing a dietitian both times, that has made me a better dietitian and better counselor. Because I have compassion and empathy having walked in many of my clients’ shoes.

Have you ever been a victim to the shame game? Have you withheld a part of your story because someone shamed you? Or maybe you shamed yourself? What part of your story do you still need to own? And how will you get there?

I highly recommend journaling for this. Start writing out your story. The whole story. As if no one was ever going to read it. And take ownership for it all. Know that whatever your story may be, you are worthy of love and belonging. Whatever your story is, you are enough. Once you accept this, you can start to live your life as if you are worthy of love and belonging.

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18 Comments

  1. Kara this is lovely and I am so proud of you for sharing your story and owning it! 🙂 I agree that we should all be doing more of that. It makes us human and relatable. And perhaps our story can help someone else. You never know. Keep up the wonderful posts!

  2. Love this post, Kara! For a long time I didn’t put it out there (with students, clients, or on my blog) that I struggled with body image issues and improper fueling as a college athlete. It took even longer to admit to people that figuring out the best way to fuel my body came a few years AFTER actually being a registered dietitian. Opening up about this, and being honest about my current health goals has helped my clients and followers better connect with and trust me because they realize I am just as real of a person as them and that no one has it all figured out.

  3. This post is amazing, Kara! You made the right decision to include your eating disorder in your life story. EDs are awful and have a lot of dark sides but they can – as weird as saying this sounds but I’m sure you’ll know what I mean – influence us positively, too. Maybe you wouldn’t be as interested in nutrition or not have pursued these studies. Though I agree with you it’s not a wise choice for everybody with a history of an ED to become a dietitian – and I’ve seen many people on Instagram or in the blog world who go this route. Yet those like you who are truly recovered and confident in who they are might actually be “better” dietitians because they can relate to what’s going on inside the mind of someone with an ED. Whew, short novel right here … Anyway, thank you for a great thought-provoking post!

  4. Grace

    Oh man, the shame game can be brutal. It makes you start to think that vulnerability is a bad thing or something to be avoided. I remember a conversation I had with a co-worker about a year ago. We were still establishing our friendship but it was clear from first meeting that we just clicked. She mentioned a therapy session she went to the day before and was totally nonchalant about it. Turns out we went to the same therapist! A light bulb went off in my head – why was I so hesitant about admitting I go to therapy? Life is not all sunshine and rainbows and sometimes shit gets too real and you need some outside help. Tons of other people can relate and if they do judge me for it then I don’t need them in my life anyway.

    • Haha! No way! What a funny story, Grace. I had a similar experience with a friend. I was thinking about going to see a therapist and feeling shameful about it and then a friend casually mentioned something her therapist told her and it opened up the doors for me to feel comfortable asking her about therapy and who she saw and that I wanted to see someone. Agreed – plus, when we’re real with people, that’s when we experience that beautiful connection that joins us as humans – that’s where the magic happens. Thanks for sharing this xo.

  5. Rachael@AvocadoADayNutrition

    I am so proud of you for being so brave! Owning your story is terrifying – although not ED related, I’m not sure I’ve totally owned up to mine! Let’s just say it involves a pair of oversized purple glasses and really awful hair LOL! I went to a really interesting lunch and learn about providers with a history of EDs working in the ED field. One of the big takeaways regarding disclosure and not triggering disordered eating behavior in yourself is that it’s okay to share with others as long as it’s for their benefit and your healing doesn’t hinge upon it. I think when your story is something you’ve really worked through, like you have, then it can be SUCH a powerful thing to share!

    • Thanks, Rachael!! Means a lot. Hahaha I would totally own those oversized purple glasses – sounds like they need to make a comeback. Thank you. Yes, it can be a powerful thing to share and I agree it needs to be shared in the right way.

  6. Kara,
    Thank you for sharing this! I am adding Rising Strong to my book bucket list! Also, thank you for pointing out that you were discouraged from becoming a dietitian due to your previous history with disordered eating. I have recently been speaking to several student groups and your post is a good reminder to be mindful of how that message is delivered. I’ve been taking the angle of encouraging self-care and hope that encourages RD-2-Be’s to continue the pursuit of their dreams, while remembering to take care of themselves throughout the journey.

    • Thanks for sharing, Amrie. I think that is a beautiful message for students. I don’t think we should scare people out of the profession but I do think it’s important to make sure RDs and RD2Bs are taking care of themselves and getting the support they need. Yay! Hope you enjoy the book!

  7. Great post Kara! And you’re a rockin’ RD so keep up the amazing work 🙂

  8. Love this post Kara! Brene’s books encouraged me to share my story as well. It’s terrifying putting it out there, but I’ve found so many people have connected from that and feel supported that they can heal too.

    I remember hearing that too when applying to internships, and I understand it. I’ve worked with a lot of dietetic students, interns, and even dietitians with eating disorders in my practice. I also I know there are so many dietitians who have recovered and are working with clients in a supportive way.

    • Thanks, Lauren! Yes, Brene has been such an inspiration on so many fronts. I understand it too but I think it needs to be delivered in the right way and not to scare people off. xo

  9. Kara, WOW. I am very proud of you that you took that step to “OWN” your story. I too heard from a college professor not to divulge if you struggled from disordered eating or an eating disorder. However, I never bought into it. I openly share my journey on my blog and in the new book I’m writing as well! It is not only empowering but I think helps others and expands the reach while dispelling the myth that ED are unable to be recovered from. In fact, that could not be more false in my opinion. You keep owning you, because Kara, you are rocking it! Wishing you a wonderful week pretty lady!

    • Thanks, Liz! You’re so sweet. Good for you for never buying into that shame game. I love that you openly share your journey. I agree it’s empowering and also a little therapeutic I think. Wait – you’re writing a new book?! Ah, congrats! I can’t wait to hear more about it! XOXO